Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism (2018) is a book a the intersection of politics, power dynamics, and sexual dynamics.
In it, the author Kristen Ghodsee states that capitalism disempowers women and women’s sexual choices, while socialism, state-funded childcare, and affirmative actions empower women and their sexual choice.
About The Author: Kristen R. Ghodsee is an American ethnographer and Professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
She specializes in the study of ordinary citizens’ lives under socialism and post-socialism in the Eastern bloc.
Socialist Ideas Are Enjoying A Renaissance
The author says that socialist ideals are enjoying a Renaissance in the West because “citizens desire an alternative political path that will lead to a more egalitarian and sustainable future”.
My Note: Obviously this trend-spotting didn’t stand the test of a mere few months
The author mentions Corbyn, the Greek former prime minister, Bernie Sanders and a few more.
She wasn’t wrong, but these “short-term trends” are so fickle that they change in the span of an en election.
Most of the people she mentions are gone from the mainstream political landscape, and one could equally make the case that right-wing extremism instead is on the rise.
Milllenials are also far more open to socialism than the previous generation.
Socialism Empowers Women
This was one of the best ideas from Ghodsee.
When women enjoy their own sources of income, and the state guarantees social security in old age, illness, and disability, women have no economic reason to stay in abusive, unfulfilling, or otherwise unhealthy relationships.
I partially agree with her.
Women Working at Home Subsidize Employers’
The author says that when women stay in traditional roles, such as caring for the children and the elderly, they are subsidizing the costs to employers and to society.
They are performing social-work, but without being recognized for it and without receiving a pay.
Instead, they become enslaved to their husband, especially in countries where they can only access health care through their husbands.
My Note: She has a good point
She has a very good point and I hadn’t thought about it.
Writes the author:
As capitalism made a slave of the man, and then by paying her through him, made her his slave, she became the slave of a slave.
Don’t Conflate Gender With Discrimination
The author says that one should not forget that gender is not the primary category of analysis when it comes to discrimination.
Black and Hispanic women are far worse off than white women.
And if we don’t see that, the author warns, then we fall for the same mistake of Sheryl Sandberg’s ilk of feminism.
Says the Ghodsee:
The old concept of sisterhood ignores the structural aspect of capitalism that benefit white middle class women while disadvantaging working class women of color
She says that appeals to gender can break up the front of social reform, because it cuts through disadvantaged classes that have more in common that their different gender would otherwise suggest.
When examining structures of oppression, we must be mindful of the hierarchies of subjugation
In The Power Struggle Between Men and Women, Conservatives Support Men, While Democrats Support Women
Giving women the right to vote has likely played some role in the increase in government spending and in pushing governments to better serve the needs of the many, instead of the few.
The author says that Red Pill communities and male rights blogs are conservative because they seek to repress women.
Ghodsee says that all male rights activists convene that women vote liberals because it’s in their economic interest to do so.
In one of her best moments of lucid, impartial analysis, Ghodsee drops a true gem:
Ultimately, this thing we call government, is not inherently good or bad, it is a vessel that is steered by those who happen to control it at any one moment in time.
Capitalism Thrives on Indivudalism Because “The People” Are Its Biggest Enemy
Says the author:
The largest enemy of plutocracy is large numbers of citizens working together for a common cause.
It’s no coincidence that capitalism thrives on an ideology of self-interest and individualism, and its defendants will try to discredit collectivist ideals based on altruism and cooperation.
Well, that was another smart insight and the best way to end this summary of “Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism”.
People this book is not recommended to (which indirectly says a lot about the author’s bias, TBH):
If you don’t give a whit about women’s lives because you’re a gynophobic right-wing internet troll, save your money and get back to your parents’ basement right now: this isn’t the book for you
On men complaining that a good job didn’t provide them with any dating power:
Money was useless, they complained.
“The few Eastern Marks that a doctor could make in contrast to someone who, say, would in a theater, did absolutely no good“, they explained, “in luring or retaining women the way that a doctor’s salary could, and did, in the West. You had to be interesting“.
On everything changing, including the costumes and mores:
Everything was forever.
Until it wasn’t no more.
On the good things about socialism that we are all forgetting:
There was a baby in all that bathwater, it’s time we get around to save it.
Despite some truly important insights, there are some flags I need to raise:
1. Sometimes Interviews, Rather Than Data
This is a common issue with anthropology and ethnography.
The author relies heavily on interviews, and small samples affected by self-selection bias -ie.: women who answered to her work-.
2. Sometimes Opinions, Rather Than Data
The author says that “the majority of women rejected the traditional breadwinner model. They wanted to work”.
To begin with, what’s the “majority”?
And second, it’s not clear whether women rejected it out willingness, or out of need.
Based on what does she say “they wanted to work?”.
If it’s based on her interviews, what was the sample?
It feels like a sentence thrown in there, without any true data backing.
Which is not to say that it’s meaningless, maybe she’s right… But I, as the reader, cannot be sure.
3. Some Shallowness When It Comes to Actual Seduction
The author says that Roosh’s book “don’t bang Denmark” stands as a testament that female empowerment shields women from the “alpha male game”.
That doesn’t make much sense to me, and I’ll skip expanding on it.
But just as quick note, the author should realize the contradiction with what she says just a bit later, such as that reduced gender inequality and economic opportunity for women results in freer sex and more casual partners.
4. Conflates What She Prefers With What All Women Should Prefer
The author’s analysis stops at a very superficial level.
She seems to lay out a pipe-dream of what she thinks things ought to be, and then goes out looking for confirming evidence.
And she never asks the real deeper questions that would open the Pandora’s box of a wholly different reality.
- Why women exchange sex for resources?
- What else is exchanged in the sexual market place? Maybe it’s not only money VS feelings, but also status, looks, opportunities… ?
- Do some women prefer exchanging youth and beauty for luxury, or are they all “forced”, as the author suggests?
- Why do women, on average, have less resources in capitalist societies? Is it really only because of the glass ceiling?
- Why do women tend to care more for infants, is it really only because of socialization? Why do some men invest less in relationships and childcare, is it only because some of them have money?
These are the questions that would go at the roots of the topics the author wants to tackle. But she decides to either skirt them, or to only provide the answer that best fit her narrative.
And this is why “Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism” fails to provide a realistic picture of sexuality and male/female dynamics.
5. The Concept That Money Is A Tool of Female Oppression Makes Little Sense to Me
Writes the author:
Directly or indirectly, sex and money are always linked in women’s lives. A remnant of our long history of oppression
And she goes on to explain how only by limiting the power of money women will gain true sexual freedom.
The author does not understand that money is only a proxy for resources, and women look for resources the most when resources are scarce, no matter what political system they live in.
A poor-ass communist country will still have (at least some) women seek resources far more than a rich capitalist country where most women can find a job.
You don’t need to take my word for it: just ask any man who’s traveled to Cuba (or the Western men who traveled in the Eastern bloc right after the fall of communism).
6. Superficial Analysis of Sexual Economics, Believing It’s All About Money (It’s Not)
The author says that sexual economics is true, but “only within the confines of the free market system”.
The book seems to suggest that:
- Money corrupts dating
- Money gives more power to men
- Without money, sex and love become more important
And well… She’s right. Partially.
But not nearly to the extent she describes.
The issue is that the author seems to believe and to suggest that money is the only currency of exchange which is unrelated to sex and feelings.
Obviously, that’s not the case.
To begin with, money and resources are the same.
And resources don’t disappear with communism, it’s just that fewer men have them: few political cronies instead of many successful professionals and entrepreneurs.
I bet that if the author had investigated communist leaders’ wives and mistresses, she would have found they had more sex, with more women, and more attractive ones than the average population.
The only difference is that in communism resources are far more limited and only men high up in the party have them.
Basically, her solution to make dating “better” seems to me it’s a form of “make it worse for everyone”.
Second, power and status don’t disappear under communism, and they are exchanged the same way as money is.
Even purely from an economic “barter” point of view, a man who has access to anything that a woman might want, still has the ability to “exchange” that something for sexual access -ie.: there might be a communist Weinstein who controls who gets to be an actress in the state-sponsored movies-.
And finally, the exchange nature of dating does not disappear, no matter how successful you are at artificially removing resources.
Attractive men, intelligent men, artistic men, dominant men… They will still all command more power in the dating market, and still potentially demand more, while giving back less.
Studies, for example, show that attractive men do invest less in their relationships (on average).
7. At Times, It Sounds A Bit Like Straw-Manning
The author presents a few scenarios for which being a woman is a handicap.
But they felt some somewhat forced, like when she says that a girl getting a pink letter when she’s born is branded as “guilty for not being a boy”.
That made no sense (and especially not to me: my parents wanted a daughter).
A few men do the same, complaining of “if a man had done what this girl did, hell would have broken loose”.
This sounds to me like a really childish “who’s worse off” type of game.
8. One-Sided Representations of Economic Theories
The author shouldn’t have gone into economics.
She says that cutting public jobs during economic downturns prolongs the downturn.
That’s true, but not cutting public spending also increases debt.
Ghodsee’s position on public spending is also the position of Paul Krugman, and I actually agree with it -at least during crisis-.
But I think she shouldn’t have gone in economic theory without at least mentioning both sides of the argument.
Same goes for Piketty and his data on inequality.
The author would have gained credibility if she had mentioned the criticism Piketty has received for his methodology (see Nassim Taleb, 2018).
9. Some Out of Place “Red-Revolution” Moments
Writes the author:
Redistribution is going to come, in one form or another. Current levels of inequality are unsustainable in the long term.
This is nonsense and should have no place in any book that wants to be taken seriously.
Based on what does she say that?
I find symptomatic of what truly drives the author.
And it’s not science or truth.
If two billions people spontaneously decided to stop using Amazon or Facebook, two of the most powerful corporations in the world, would cease to exist
As a bit of a no-global myself, I wouldn’t mind seeing some sprawling, tax-evading corporations fall, but this is still symptomatic of the author’s own political bias.
10. Conflates “Social Expectation” With Real Innate Propensities
Like most other left-leaning authors, Ghodsee prefers to stress the socialization influence on gender roles instead of the nature side.
Here is what the author writes (I paraphrase for brevity, but without changing the meaning):
Men and women are not the same, but our beliefs about how men and women behave a figment of our collective imagination -a powerful figment, yes, but a figment nonetheless-.
Of course, the author also blames socialization for fewer women in positions of authority and in tech and engineering fields (also see: how to be powerful and feminine).
Oh well, what can I say, it’s a pity that a book with so much potential had to fall for the same old nonsense that plagues left-leaning literature.
11. Society Should Bear The Cost of Raising Children Because Children Benefit Society?
The author says that children benefit society, so society should bear the cost of raising them.
She even says that children might be more of a benefit to society than to their parents (!!).
I feel very strongly about this, so I’m not going to mince words: this communist nonsense at best, and truly harmful thinking at worst.
So if one decide not to have children, he should pay for my children?
And has the author realized that we live in an overcrowded world?
Or maybe when she complains about global warming she really believes it’s evil corporations and not that we are too many in this world?
12. “Our Goal Should Be”: The Communist Way of Telling People How to Live
When I hear stuff like this I want to throw the audiobook away:
Our goal should be that an equal number of men and women choose to act as stay at home parents
Here we are, typical communist, telling people how they should think and act.
So a perfect society should “force” people into equilibrium, no matter what they freely decide?
Thank you, but keep your “goals” within your own home.
13. Nonsense Evolutionary Psychology
Supposedly, agriculture instituted inequality, slavery, the patriarchy, and even monogamous marriage, with the enforced fidelity of the wife -anything else couldn’t be thrown in there, I suppose-.
Please don’t listen to that part, it just isn’t true.
14. A Bit Naive When it Comes to Human Nature?
The author seems a bit naive at times.
The idea of removing inequalities to make people’s lives better and relationships better is somewhat naive, in my opinion.
And then she says this:
One of the biggest problems with 20th century socialism in Eastern Europe was that some leaders were too eager to sacrifice the lives of their own citizens for the sake of building a more just and egalitarian future
I don’t think that one of the biggest problems was that leaders were too good and too future-oriented.
This book on Amazon has either 0-star reviews, or 5-star reviews.
That says two things:
- People review based on ideology, rather than content
- This book lends itself to be seen as an ideology-driven book
That doesn’t make it necessarily wrong, and there is some true original insight here.
Indeed, I would also give it 5 stars for its positive insights:
5 Stars for the insight on male/female competition as groups
The most important insight in “Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism” is the “power struggle” between men and women as groups, not as individuals.
Ghodsee is the only author who actually understands and appreciates how men and women, as groups, battle to influence the political and cultural discourse in a way that benefits them.
In that regard, Ghodsee stands unique among everyone else, including the most famous, experienced, and esteemed evolutionary psychologists.
Indeed, most other evolutionary psychologists either deny, misunderstand, or choose to ignore that men, even while pursuing individual goals, can end up acting like a homogenous group that seeks to restrict women’s access to power and resources.
One would wonder if that might have to do with the fact that almost all evolutionary psychologists are men…
So I applaud Ghodsee and I am thankful to her for saying it.
Thanks to her, now I have one author to quote and mention, instead of being just me saying it on this website.
One Star for Political Bias
Unluckily, the author’s personal biases also lead to many important handicaps and limitations in “Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism”.
To begin with, this is a book about how “things ought to be”, rather than how things are.
And finally, partially because of the political biases, “Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism” is not a book to understand sexual dynamics or true human nature.
In summary: I do recommend you read it.
By you must follow it with a more rigorous and neutral text of evolutionary psychology based on data.
Check out the: